‘Resident Evil: Retribution’ a frenzied, confusing mash-up of past and present
Paul W.S. Anderson must never tire of seeing his wife dashing around in what must be the entire world’s supply of leather S&M outfits, slaying zombies, genetic monstrosities and all the baddies in her way. Apparently, he’s not the only one, though.
With the latest entry into the classic video-game-turned-movie franchise, “Resident Evil: Retribution” highlights just how frenzied director Anderson can be with this series. (He’s written all of the scripts for the franchise, and directed most of the movies.) From re-introducing carbon copies of film favorites from previous installments to tossing catsuit-wearing heroine Alice (the ever-present Milla Jovovich) from one foreign locale to the next with whiplash-inducing speed, Anderson takes a everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink approach. Because if ogling Jovovich as she prances around slaying the undead isn’t enough, you have to have a backup, right?
The fifth installment in the series, “Retribution” takes places immediately after the events of the previous film, “Afterlife.” Our heroine and her motley crew still are aboard the Arcadia freighter, finding themselves under attack from the sinister Umbrella Corporation. Which, by the way, is still somehow able to conduct complicated military maneuvers despite having nearly destroyed the world with the release of its t-Virus. Go figure.
However, being above the sea is a quick experience for Alice, who finds herself knock unconscious during the battle. When she awakens, her life is seemingly normal, with a husband and kid to boot. But as with “Resident Evil” in general, nothing is as it seems. Zombies quickly swarm this idyllic scenario, scattering this reality.
Alice then finds herself trapped in a vast, underwater testing facility in Kamchatka, Russia, where Umbrella likes to create clones and test out its various biological weapons. Coming to her rescue are none other than the infamous Ada Wong (Li Bingbing), a master assassin and spy from the video game, both feared and unknown. This time around, she’s working for Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), Alice’s archenemy who suddenly finds it in his heart to free her from her confines. Again, not everything is as it seems and the world is in even more peril than before. Let’s just say A.I. has a nasty way of casting aside human life.
Also joining Ada as she aids Alice are Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb), Barry Burton (Kevin Durand) and Luther West (Boris Kodjoe, characters both from the game and previous movies. The goal is simple: to escape the facility with as many alive as possible, clones included. Speaking of which, thanks to the constant ability of Umbrella to clone people perfectly in seemingly no time at all, we see the return of old friends Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez) and Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr).
As has been established in previous installments, the “Resident Evil” live-action films rarely put any work into scripting, acting or direction. The same holds for “Retribution.” However, that’s not really important, because the only reason we’re here is to watch Alice kick some butt with impressive acrobatics in glorious 3-D. In the visual department, “Retribution” excels, showcasing a penchant for visual simulation. Add a beautiful lead (the always airbrushed Jovovich), and you have yourself some serious eye candy.
In the end, “Resident Evil: Retribution” does two things: that Jovovich’s Alice is and always will be the center to this storyline, and that we’re wrapping up this tragic, lazy tale of ego and its devastating consequences. Anderson, who is working on the script for the sixth installment, has said this next movie will the be the last for this story arc, with its tentative title being “The Final Chapter.” It’s about time: I think we’d agree that Alice needs a rest.
Two leather-clad stars out of five.